Unknown animal tried to get into chicken coops last night...???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by 77horses, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    Last night, I put all the chickens away as usual before dark. Everything was fine and seemed normal. We haven't had any signs of a potential predator, besides hawks and owls, that could harm the chickens since back around 2007 when a weasel attacked our chickens. But since then, we've lost no birds to predators at all. Maybe a couple to illness, and there have been a few close encounters with the neighborhood dogs that thankfully didn't end in any losses, but other than that we've never had anything that bad; such as raccoon attacks, etc. Which I am very thankful for, since I've heard many sad stories on this forum about the birds that you guys have all lost due to predator attacks.
    But anyway, lately the only thing we've had around here are some bobcats, hawks, owls, coyotes, skunks, etc. And even they haven't ever really been a problem.

    But this morning, when I went outside to let the chickens out, I noticed that along the sides of the wired chicken runs there were dig marks where it looked like something had tried to dig under the wiring. There's even a pretty big hole, about 5 inches wide and 4-5 inches deep, that goes under the wiring and into the run. The digging marks were along two of the three coop's chicken runs (I have three total chicken coops, except one is in the garage so nothing could ever really get into there). The two outside coops with the wired chicken runs are the only ones with dig marks in the dirt around them. There are multiple places that it seems like whatever animal it was really wanted to get into the chicken runs, and went from place to place, trying to find a spot where it could dig under. But, thankfully, whatever caused the holes and dig marks around the base of the chicken wiring fences didn't get in because all the chickens were safe and counted for. The chicken coop that is in one of the wired runs is still being worked on and isn't very safe; it's made from that soft wood stuff and has a few holes that need to be repaired in it, and if anything, such as a weasel, fox, etc. wanted to get in, it would be as easy as just walking through the walls of the coop. We are trying to get it fixed before winter, and last night was the first night a flock of the chickens were kept in the under-construction coop since I decided it needed to be repaired recently. But after last night and when I found the holes around the fence this morning, they won't be staying in that coop again until it's completely predator-proof! [​IMG]
    Also, there were some leftover bread pieces in one of the runs from the night before, and they weren't there anymore this morning, but we have a bunch of gray squirrels around here and the bread looked like it had been nibbled on by a squirrel or something. [​IMG]

    So anyway, what do you think it could be that dug those holes around the fence? My first thought was a skunk. We have some around here and they dig holes sometimes in the lawn to look for grubs and beetles to eat during the night. But that's mostly in the Spring, not in the Fall. And there wasn't any skunk smell like there usually is. And the skunks don't dig holes under the fences; they mainly leave little poke marks in the ground, caused from their pointy snouts, and it's usually on the lawn. So I don't think it was a skunk this time.

    My second guess is a coyote. Since it's fall, this is the time they are roaming around more and finding their own territories for the winter, and I have heard them at night down in the woods before. They have always been around but have never really been a problem, since there's a lot of prey out there in the woods for them to eat due to my location. So what I would guess is a coyote maybe stopped by last night, could smell the chickens in the coop, and attempted to dig under the wired fence? I found a couple paw prints in the soft dirt that had been dug up around the fence, and it looked like a small dog's print. I have two dogs, but only one had been let out during the night and it was on the leashed run, which doesn't go as far as where the holes around the chicken coop runs are. So the paw prints couldn't have been left by one of the dogs.

    My third guess is a fox. We have had foxes nearby us, but again they haven't really been a problem, and I've never seen any around the yard at all. But it could more logically be a fox, because the paw prints are similar, the size of the hole could be easily made by a fox, etc. The only thing is, like I said, I've never seen any nearby the house. Maybe a few miles away I've seen a fox or two cross the road while driving, but not in the yard.
    Also, I almost forgot to mention that I also found some droppings in the chicken run. It's definitely not from one of the chickens. It looks like fox droppings to me, but I'm not sure. [​IMG]

    If you have any suggestions on what the animal might be, please let me know! [​IMG]

    Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. Cat Water

    Cat Water That Person

    Jul 4, 2010
    Mid Coast Maine
    It might be fox or a dog. I haven't had any issues with them so far because we have a chain link fence with chicken wire on the bottom, but they have tried. Just put down some chicken wire flat on the ground around the edge and that will keep them out. Good luck! [​IMG]
  3. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    That's what I thought. It's just weird because since I started raising chickens in 2007, I've NEVER had problems with any foxes around here. I suspect that there are several living nearby, and since it's Fall now they should be leaving their dens and finding their own territories for the winter, I think.
  4. aprophet

    aprophet Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 12, 2010
    chesapeake Va.
    That's what I thought. It's just weird because since I started raising chickens in 2007, I've NEVER had problems with any foxes around here. I suspect that there are several living nearby, and since it's Fall now they should be leaving their dens and finding their own territories for the winter, I think.

    the fox pups just out grow the den they should have gone already sometimes litter mates will travel together through the winter . trapping them I hardly ever catch an old one and a young one frequently I catch 2-3 young ones about the same age
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  5. elevan

    elevan Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Quote:Hmmm....I've got something digging under my run wall too...it's the same width and depth as your dig but it's digging under 18 inches of chicken wire covered in brick.

    I've refilled the hole and expanded the width of the brick/ wire once, only to go out tonight to find that it re-dug the hole clear under the expanded brick/wire.

    I haven't lost any birds, but it worries me because my hens are only 6 1/2 weeks old. I'm going to make the area surrounding my coop / run concrete tomorrow. I just wish I knew what the darn thing was!
  6. Bizzybirdy

    Bizzybirdy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2008
    North of Nashville
    Why not run a hot wire around the pen about 6 inches from the ground? That has kept ALL small predators away from one of my chain link pens....and we have alot of possums, foxes and racoons here.

    I also ran sheet metal 2 ft. high around the outside bottom of it.

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